Piety vs. pietism PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 21 July 2018 13:58




THEY can look the same, if appearances and things external are only considered. But one is true while the other is fake in this whole business of developing our proper relation with God and with others.  We need to have the skill of distinguishing between the two and of choosing the right one.

Piety sprouts from a genuine love of God with whom a person can truly have a personal encounter with God, an encounter that produces a lot of living effects. Pietism is just a matter of going through the motions of piety but is barren in things that really matter, although it may mimic some fruitfulness.

Everyone is supposed to develop a personal relationship of intimate love of God, a love that would lead us to love everybody else, no matter how he is. This is what piety is all about. It is actually a duty that everyone has since he or she has to correspond to God’s continuing love for all of us. In other words, God’s love for us should be repaid also with our love for him.

But given our condition of being a knowing and free creature, we can always choose to be true or false in that duty to correspond to God’s love. This is where we have to make frequent self-examination to check if indeed our relationship with God and with others is truly taking the right path.

It can also happen that given our wounded condition, we can fall into the fake pietism without fully realizing it. This is the case when one falls into what is known as spiritual lukewarmness and complacency, a general feeling of self-satisfaction that blinds one from moving forward and growing more in his spiritual life.

We need to see that our relationship with God is a working one, full of love that will always have effects both internally and externally. If there is true piety, we will always be fired up by the many forms and expressions of love that actually are limitless in its possibilities. There is never a dull moment when piety is alive and kicking, because even if we are restrained physically, the heart will always throb with love.

When we notice that we are feeling empty and idle, we need to do everything to regain a felt intimacy with God. We have to feel God’s great love for us so we can ignite our own love for him and others. The ideal to aim at always is for us to feel driven and passionate and hot in our love for God and others.

That is why we also a need a plan or strategy, complete with concrete means, to see to it that our piety is sustained amid the ups and downs of our daily drama. These means can be some moments of quiet mental prayer or meditation, a time for spiritual reading, for saying the Rosary, for attending the Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion, and of course, a time of hard work.

We can also determine if our piety is true piety and not false pietism if after those practices of piety, we feel the impulse and the urge to do a lot of good like doing personal apostolate everywhere, sanctifying our work without fear of the effort and sacrifices involved, etc. In other words, true piety makes us to be both contemplative and active. We would not be one or the other only.

In our daily examination of conscience before we end the day, let’s try to make an assessment as to whether we managed to strike a good balance between the contemplative and active aspects of our life, which should be like the two sides of the same coin.